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Vote Amid Tight Security, Indonesia Elections Witness Higher Youth Participation

“All respectable polling are indicating a similar result which will be a reasonable victory for the incumbent and while the challenger did very well in the last debate I’m not sure that will be enough to change the game,”

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Elections
Indonesian election workers dressed in superhero costumes register voters at a polling station in Surabaya, April 17, 2019. VOA

Indonesians voted in national and regional elections Wednesday with President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo widely expected to win a second term. However, late reports suggest his winning margin could be much smaller than anticipated.

Security was tight but friendly around Tamon Suropati, a leafy park in the plush suburb of Menteng, home to former president Megawati Sukarnoputri, as voting began under clear blue skies.

“Today, the election, I feel like Hari Raya, it means a big, big day for us,” said 69-year-old Enny, who voted alongside her twin sister for the incumbent, Widodo.

Paul Mirully a 43-year-old taxi driver, added: “For my choice in a president, No. 1 is good. Royally, religiously and for the prospects of Indonesia it’s very good, sir.”

Incumbent President Joko Widodo and his wife, Iriana Widodo, display their inked fingers after casting their ballot at a polling center during the presidential and legislative election in Jakarta, April 17, 2019.
Incumbent President Joko Widodo and his wife, Iriana Widodo, display their inked fingers after casting their ballot at a polling center during the presidential and legislative election in Jakarta, April 17, 2019. VOA

Turnout a factor

For many it was a family day out. Adhi Rasjid, a 48-year-old mining executive, said voting was smooth despite concerns over “golput,” a term used to describe deliberately spoiled ballots and voters who abstain, particularly among millennials.

“I think the turnout for the younger voters are increasing now, compared to say 10 years ago. I think the issues are more relevant. So I hope they take a bigger part in our democracy,” Rasjid said.

There are 60 million voters younger than 30, and surveys have indicated that many could abstain and skew the final result. But retired three-star general Ian Santoso Perdanakusuma told VOA voting had gone well.

“I am happy, everything is very good for Indonesians,” he said. “I haven’t seen any, any movements against the security. I’m happy that it will be good in the next year and the next five years, I hope.”

Voting numbers peaked around 11 a.m. local time, and counting got underway at 1 p.m. after polling stations closed, with a clearer picture of the results expected to emerge later in the evening. Official results were not expected to be known for several weeks.

Presidential challenger Prabowo Subianto shows off his ink-dyed finger after casting his vote in Indonesia's general election at a polling station in Bogor, April 17, 2019.
Presidential challenger Prabowo Subianto shows off his ink-dyed finger after casting his vote in Indonesia’s general election at a polling station in Bogor, April 17, 2019. VOA

Clear favorite

Jokowi went into this poll as the clear favorite, carrying a 20 percentage point lead over his rival, Prabowo Subianto, following five years at the helm where he was praised for delivering on badly needed big ticket infrastructure projects and a national health scheme.

The pair had squared off in five nationally televised debates with most political pundits judging the contest about even and analysts say Jokowi needs to win with a comfortable margin of 8-10% if he is to avoid protests and legal challenges by the opposition camp.

Prabowo has already raised the prospect of “ghost voters” and potential rigging in the fifth ballot to be held since the downfall of President Suharto in 1998 and the outbreak deadly protests across the archipelago of more than 18,000 islands.

“Everybody who loses, pro-forma, takes their case to the constitutional court and then they accept the verdict afterwards. I see no reason to see anything different this time,” said Kevin Evans, director of the Australia-Indonesia Center.

“People like to talk about Armageddon kind of outcomes here. They’ve been predicting violence at every election since I’ve been here and the only violence was during the pre-democratic period. In the democratic period, it hasn’t been the case,” he added.

There were reports that voting was stopped in two districts in the troubled far eastern province of Papua, where residents were arguing with police and ballot papers unavailable.

People look at a list of electoral candidates during elections in Jakarta, Indonesia, April 17, 2019.
People look at a list of electoral candidates during elections in Jakarta, Indonesia, April 17, 2019. VOA

Speculation online

And as the polls closed and early counting began, online speculation was rampant that Prabowo had performed better than expected, with one tweet claiming he expects to win 63% of the popular vote. Another said the Jokowi camp expected to win by a margin of 2-3%.

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However, analysts cast doubts on those figures.

“All respectable polling are indicating a similar result which will be a reasonable victory for the incumbent and while the challenger did very well in the last debate I’m not sure that will be enough to change the game,” Evans said. (VOA)

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Africa: New Dresses, Youth Action – Ending Female Circumcision

Right now the civil society in Africa is truncated, you have fragmentation

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Africa, Dresses, Youth
FILE - A man shows the logo of a T-shirt that reads "Stop the Cut" referring to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) during a social event advocating against harmful practices such as FGM at the Imbirikani Girls High School in Imbirikani, Kenya, April 21, 2016. VOA

Hundreds of delegates from African governments and campaigners gathered in Senegal this week to discuss how to end female genital mutilation (FGM), which world leaders pledged to eradicate under a set of global goals agreed in 2015.

But the ancient ritual — which typically involves the partial or total removal of the external genitalia and can cause pain, infertility and death — remains deeply entrenched in many African countries despite years of activism.

Here are some quotes from participants at the summit, which ended Tuesday, on priorities for ending FGM in Africa:

Isatou Touray, Vice President of the Gambia

Africa, Dresses, Youth
Hundreds of delegates from African governments and campaigners gathered in Senegal this week to discuss how to end female genital mutilation (FGM). Pixabay

“What is missing is political will. Some countries have enacted acts but the enforcement of those instruments for the promotion of women’s and children’s rights — that is missing.

“Number two is the weak capacity of civil society. Right now the civil society in Africa is truncated, you have fragmentation. We need to have a strong movement.”

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of U.N. Women

“One area that I think is a gap is law enforcement. This is a crime. When people do it then they are breaking the law.

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“You don’t see prosecutions enough for crimes committed against women in general … from domestic violence to rape. So we need law enforcement to step it up.”

Fatou Ndiaye Deme, Women’s Ministry, Senegal

“What is missing is good coordination. The action also needs to be at the community level. It can’t just be high-level meetings, the community has to be involved.”

Mamadou Traore, Imam, Mali

Africa, Dresses, Youth
Some countries have enacted acts but the enforcement of those instruments for the promotion of women’s and children’s rights — that is missing. Pixabay

“The obstacle is the religiosity of the practice. Some religious leaders think it is part of Islam.

“Now that they have seen that there are negative consequences, some imams have asked to medicalize the practice.

We are working with doctors to show that you can’t medicalize it, because you don’t cut this part to heal but to wound.”

Virginia Lekumoisa, survivor and activist, Kenya

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“Using the power of the youth is what I feel like other countries are not doing.

“Maybe what makes us stand out [in Kenya] is the fact that we have backed this up with youth action and power from the youth networks, working to end FGM and actually taking action.”

Rugiatu Turay, chairwoman, Forum Against Harmful Traditional Practices, Sierra Leone

“One of the most important things is funding, because you have the willingness.

“We have communities that are now willing to remove the shrine [where FGM happens], but in removing the shrine we also have to put on some kind of fanfare and celebrations. We have to make sure the women will have new dresses. So it’s all about funding.”

Ifrah Ahmen, campaigner, Somalia

“We have the international support and we have international leaders who back us up but this is our issue.

“I think now is the time to ring the bell for African leaders to speak up.” (VOA)